Cover Image
close this bookTowards Sustainable Water Resources Management - A Strategic Approach (European Commission, 1998, 351 pages)
close this folderPart III: Aids for the application of the strategic approach
close this folderChapter 12: Glossary of key concepts
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAppropriate modern technology
View the documentAwareness raising
View the documentBasic needs/Basic services
View the documentBeijing Global Platform for Action
View the documentCapacity building
View the documentClean technology
View the documentCommunications techniques
View the documentDecentralised co-operation
View the documentDemand management
View the documentEconomic and financial analysis
View the documentEcosystem management
View the documentEnvironmental analysis
View the documentEnvironmental economic valuation
View the documentEnvironmental sanitation
View the documentGender
View the documentHygiene (or health) education
View the documentIndigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK)
View the documentIntegrated water resources management
View the documentInternational water law
View the documentKnowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) studies
View the documentMarginal cost pricing
View the documentMetering
View the documentMonitoring Indicators
View the documentParticipation
View the documentParticipatory Appraisal
View the documentParticipatory Irrigation Management (PIM)
View the documentParticipatory Technology Development (PTD)
View the documentPolicy Review
View the document'Polluter pays' principle
View the documentPrivate sector participation
View the documentRamsar Convention
View the documentRegulatory systems
View the documentRe-use and recycling of water
View the documentRiver Basin Organisations (RBOs)
View the documentSocial data collection
View the documentSocial Impact Assessment (SIA)
View the documentStakeholders
View the documentSocial mobilisation
View the documentSubsidiarity principle
View the documentTariffs
View the documentTariff structures
View the documentTransboundary waters
View the documentVirtual water
View the documentWater-borne diseases
View the documentWater laws and legislation
View the documentWater Markets
View the documentWater ownership
View the documentWater quality standards
View the documentWater User Associations
View the documentWillingness-to-pay (WTP) surveys


Tariffs or charges raise revenues for water services and are necessary for the operation and development of water supply and wastewater services. They also help to underline to users that water is a valuable resource. The most common kind of water charge is a flat-rate charge based on property values. The flat-rate charge has the benefits of certainty over the level of revenue and ease of administration and collection. Its major disadvantage is that charges are not related to the actual level of consumption. Thus this kind of charge cannot serve any economic purpose. Once the annual charge is paid, water becomes free, hence users have no incentive to restrain their consumption. The alternative to flat rate charges is volumetric charges, which vary according to the amount of water consumed (see also Metering). Most volumetric tariffs are of the two-part kind, with both fixed and varying elements. Some systems entitle the user to a free allowance of water for basic household needs, before volumetric charges begin to apply. Seasonal tariffs impose surcharges on water consumed at times of the year when it is scarcer and more costly to supply. In emergencies, such as drought, water may be rationed, or certain uses to be prohibited. Different systems of tariffs are needed for irrigation; industrial water usage; and for waste and wastewater removal and treatment when this is not automatically coupled to water supply. Further information: Pricing of Water Services, OECD, 1987.